Bali or Bust



Hello All,

Total travel time to reach our first hotel in Bali:
16.5 hours on planes
5 hours in airports
3 hours driving

It’s a hike to get here, but its nice, hot and humid once you arrive. We spent the first day sleeping off and relaxing after our marathon travel. We stayed in Tulamben which is a very small area on the north of the island. We are in diving paradise and that is all anyone around here really does. Lots of diving and snorkeling. You walk into the water (10 meters from our door), and you are on a coral reef known as the coral garden. We stayed at the Paradise Palms Beach Bungalow which is a collection of little bungalows that are really quiet and peaceful (leads to lots of sleep).

After we got our bearings the first day and slept a lot. We got out, walked around and had some good Indonesian food. We also bumped into a few people who kept asking about my uncle Roger who may or may not be some sort of local legend here….either that or a boogeyman type story, tough to say for sure. We ended up talking with one of the local dive shops and decided to go snorkeling the next morning on the USS Liberty shipwreck which was only 150 meters down the beach. The wreck was absolutely amazing, you are swimming along a coral garden when all of sudden you are looking at the stern of a ship, iron everywhere. You can then swim along the entire breadth of a very intact warship, complete with a few machine guns sticking out and one very large barracuda swimming around. It was a really awesome sight to see, and the crowd of divers swimming in and around the wreck threw off a huge mass of bubbles which were also fun to swim through. On the swim back we ended up among a huge school of Jack Fish which was another surreal moment as these hundreds of fish swam all around you and the light cut through the different density layers and cast some pretty amazing lines and shadows. We got out after a nice long snorkel and proceeded to just relax, soak up some sun and enjoy the rest of our day.

The next day Arca picked us up and we headed out for Ubud, where we would be staying for the next four days. The three hour drive was a very nice way to see some scenery and landscape since it had been dark when we arrived. The massive volcano was the first surprise coming up over the first hill. After that we settled in for a nice relaxed tour of the Bali countryside. We arrived at our hotel, met Wayan (another friend of Roger’s) who was extremely nice and helpful, checked in and arrived at our room. This trip is technically our honeymoon since we never got to take one and upon our arrival in our room we found flowers and a heart made of rose petals on the bed (awwwww). We took pictures and then got settled took a quick nap before Arca was to take us out to a monkey temple on a cliff.

On the way to the monkey temple we stopped at a village made famous by Julia Roberts in “Eat, Pray, Love” and went down to see the white sand surfing spot. It was crowded to say the least and apparently all due to the movie since prior to that it was fairly empty according to Arca. We saw some surfers and people hanging out and even got a chance to walk in the water a bit which is very nice and warm. We then climbed back up as we didnt want to miss the sunset at the temple.

The monkey temple was an interesting sight and we made sure not to wear any earrings, sunglasses or shiny objects as the monkeys apparently cannot resist taking them and will take them no matter how strongly you protest. We walked around the temple with Arca filling us in on the culture and history behind it and then made our way to the farthest edge of the cliff in order to watch an amazing sunset, while some fire dancing went on behind us. After our temple visit we headed to the beach to a restaurant Arca knew about that served great seafood. He wasn’t kidding, the only thing on the menu is several types of seafood and you just pick which type you want, how much and how you want it cooked. The fish is still in the container from the boat which probably arrived a few hours before we did. They then simply clean the fish and cook it whole before serving it to you will rice and some delicious sauces. After this we were thoroughly tired and headed back to the Hotel in order to get some rest before our early morning the next day when we would be doing a cooking class.

The next morning we woke up and had a traditional Bali breakfast which was awesome and then made our way over to the cooking class. The class was awesome the woman that taught it has been working here for 10 years and have lived in Ubud all her life. She was a great cook, halarious and really fun to cook with. It was also nice since she really focused more on the culture behind the food and the ideas behind Balinese cooking rather than just a recipe. She would discuss the reasons for each ingredient, what to do if you can’t find it (Uajimaya here I come) and how everything we made was what people in Bali cook for everyday meals. The menu we prepared was a sweet and spicy salad, fish wrapped in banana leaf, fish cury, spinach tomato sambal and fresh sambal. It was all super delicious and really fun. After the class Kailey and I spent the afternoon relaxing, reading and taking it easy till the sun went away and we could head out into the city to wander around. We were so full from lunch we skipped dinner got a bit of Gelato and then headed home to happily fall asleep.

We woke up later on again had breakfast and then to the city market we went. The actual market is under construction but there is a temporary market filling up an old building next door. We wandered from stall to stall taking in what can only be descried as a giant flea market crammed into a space much too small to contain it, but it was a neat experience and after a morning of wandering in the heat (did I mention its the hot season here?) we headed back to the hotel for some swimming and sun. We decided that with the heat and the many options available to us that river rafting was probably the most enjoyable way to spend our last day in Bali. Wayan helped us to book a good company and even got us a pretty sweet discount to boot. We relaxed further that afternoon and then went out to a local restaurant that our friend Anna had recommended from her time in Ubud.

The next morning we woke up had our breakfast and then were picked up by the rafting company and drove out to the outfitters headquarters in order to get suited up and ready to raft. Sobec rafting is a really nice group of people and we spent 2 hours on the Aryung (sp?) river heading through some decent rapids. Our guide Jackie was a really funny guy and we had a very good time going back and forth with the other boat, our boat somewhere along the way got the name of “Business Class” since we were the better boat and always out front, of the other “economy class” boat. Jackie luckily was there to protect us from the various crocodiles and monitor lizards that we came across in the river (this was really him just slapping the water as hard as he could with his paddle and screaming either “crocodile” or “monitor lizard” to make us all jump with fear). He also treated us to several rousing renditions of “row, row, row your boat” on our merry cruise downstream. After the raft we got to have a good Balinese lunch and then when we were quite full we headed up the 200 steps back to the pick-up point.

On the way back up Sam was walking behind Kailey when all of a sudden the bushes on the side of the path rustled and then a creature sprung forth! Fearing for her life Kailey screamed as the vicious chicken made its way quickly across the path. Kailey and Sam were highly amused as was their guide Jackie who made it quite clear how funny he thought this was. The drive back was good and the rest of the afternoon was spent, planning, blogging and trying to get everything up to date before we reached Perth!

The next morning we were greeted after breakfast by Arca, who was ready to take us back to the airport and send us on our way to Oz. We loaded the bags said goodbye to Wayan and headed out. We made it to the airport and checked in, with a few hidden fees assessed by the Balinese government as a kind goodbye.

Honestly we are not sure what to think about Bali. It has some very nice parts, lots of tourist traps, a significant amount of poverty, and lots of stray animals. The stray animals really got to Kailey and we attempted to visit a Bali Street Dog Rescue Sanctuary called BARC. Unfortunately they had just moved to a lager piece of property and were not yet set up for visitors. They still need a lot of donations and after seeing many stray dogs, we are planning on helping them out with a donation when we get home. Feel free to check them out online yourself! Another thing that disturbed Kailey to tears thanks to Dubai and the National Geographic Channel was that Indonesia uses elephants in their tourism industry. Although we do not know how the elephants in Bali are kept or specifically treated, we did watch a special on the elephants of Indonesia from our Dubai hotel. There was this super horrible part of the show where they showed a YouTube video of “Breaking the Spirit of the Elephant” where the newly captive creature is put in a pen where it can not turn around or get away or stand on it’s hind legs and for 7 days it is starved of food and water while it is continuously beaten with chains, sticks, hammers, nails etc until is practically collapses… all to teach it that humans are in control and forever it’s boss. For both of us this was definitely one of the worst videos we have seen in a while. In the end we could not stomach it and had to change the channel, even though we both like to be informed of the realities of situations. We vowed from that point on that we would do nothing with elephants or monkeys while in Bali.

We boarded our plane with a bit of anxious excitement and headed off over the water to Perth. Australian road trip HERE WE COME!!!

~ Sam and K.

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